While we were all in shock after the tragedy in Thousands Oaks, two more California tragedies, the Camp Fire and the Woolsey Fire, flared. And here we are now, our shock even more profound.
Just back from Panama City, Florida and Hurricane Michael’s devastation, I’m a few weeks into grieving another tragic experience for a community, this time my hometown. This time my loved ones.
So I feel like sharing a bit of what I’m reflecting on right now.
These stories are just beginning.
First, as any stories of tragedy fade from front page news, they’re really just beginning. The support that we can and want to give must continue.
It can come in so many ways, from the deeply personal and truly sacrificial—a shoulder to cry on, housing help or work for displaced people—to the simplest quiet acts. Like yes to a small donation in the grocery store. I had lunch with a friend today who said she gives directly to GoFundMe pages to make a fast impact.
Life is so beautiful.
I was struck over and over in Panama City by gorgeous days, while weather-related tragedy unfolded all around us. It was surreal.
And I say that taking the time for all those thoughts and feelings, rather than shutting them down, is an important part of finding our way through devastating experiences. Take real time to think. Time to feel. Everything else that seems so urgent will still be there.
In the process, in the wise words of the Dalai Lama, reflect on your own strength to carry on. On everything your own life is about. Everything you hope for.
The point is to care for yourself toward helping those around you. Your oxygen mask comes first.
Don’t sugarcoat. Do offer hope. And rest.
If you’re connected to anybody directly impacted by these tragedies, do empathize. And do remember to also offer encouragement. To offer hope. Your words may make a difference that you’ll never know.
Trust your instincts as you find ways to help that don’t sugarcoat what is in fact tragic, but that do align with that very human activity of carrying on. It’s what we do. We keep going.
And on dark nights, in dark times, we need rest. We all need rest. There will be days and nights when we’ll get it, days and nights when we won’t. But keep giving yourself permission for it. For that oxygen mask. Nourish yourself toward nourishing others.
As you keep your own little light burning, it can help brighten the way forward for others. For all of us.
Teresa Young wants you living your dream, for real. She coaches by phone, in person in Los Angeles, and via Skype outside the U.S.